All I ask is the chance to prove that money can’t make me happy. Spike Milligan

The yogi diet is characteristically clean. We consume fresh foods as unprocessed as possible with the suggestion that meat is off the menu. When I became a vegetarian I thought it would be brilliant not only for my health but also for my bank balance, because meat and fish is so expensive isn’t it? Equally, when I decided to make my diet as vegan as possible within the loosely defined limits of needing to surgically attach my face to a piece of cake now and then, I thought my purse would be positively heavy. How wrong I was. What has ensued in my quest for fresh, fancy free, organic, local foods has been not only been a joyous journey into the land of acquiring much more knowledge, but also a penchant and need for supplements, super foods and chemical free fodder. This has turned my wallet inside out.

These little purchases of sundries such as raw vegan chocolate, protein powders and coconut oils are kind of ok during the rest of the year, especially because I have eschewed alcohol most of the time as well, and so can justify these treats. In January however, when my bank balance is like a cavernous hole ravished by over enthusiastic Christmas presents, flight bookings for 2014 and sale purchases (because those work trousers seem reasonable at 50 rather than 100 pounds in the post-Christmas-pre-New-Year-money-is-no-object splurge don’t they?!). Because of this, I am currently forgoing my usual super duper foodie treats, and am embracing a more frugal diet until I get paid which seems still a long way off.

Anyway, here are my 5 top switches for things to cook and be super healthy during January without breaking the bank….

1. Porridge instead of Protein Powders

Porridge is brilliant! Not only does it fill you up but it also costs very little and is really good for you. It is low in saturated fat, can help you regulate your appetite, give you energy, boost your immunity and help your muscles recover from hard work on the mat or at the gym. My top tip for porridge making is to do it on the hob and let it stand for a few minutes once its cooked. This will let your porridge get creamy, milky and thick.

Fancy Porridge at Wagamama, ours will look like this but without the silly pots

Fancy Porridge at Wagamama, ours will look like this but without the silly pots

My favourite frugal topping for this lovely morning moment is a sliced banana and some maple syrup. Oats can also be used instead of protein powders if you want to keep going with a breakfast smoothie.

January super without breaking the bank breakfast smoothie recipe:

1 cup water, 1 cup non dairy milk, 1 banana, handful Kale (50p per massive bag at the moment at Tescos), 1 scoop oats, some ice….BLEND!!!! Enjoy 🙂

2. Fried Rice and Noodle Soup instead of any takeaways that you love (like EastzEast Vegetable Vindaloo, for my sins)

Embracing Asian food at home can help you to feel like you are eating something full of flavour and exotic without taking a trip to the takeaway. Often too, these home cooked versions will help you swerve any nasty chemicals, flavourings or colourings that are favourites of takeaways to make you love the food. I have two alternatives to Asian style takeaways, the first of which being fried rice:

Fried Rice

Cook 50g rice per person and drain. Chop up onion, garlic, ginger, and any stir fry veg you have hanging about in the fridge (I used tomatoes, mushrooms, pak choi, and chillis!). Heat your wok with some peanut or rapeseed oil until its screaming hot, then flash fry the onions, garlic and ginger. Add the rice into the pan and season with 2 teaspoons soy per person and some lime or fish sauce (diet depending). Then mix around till the rice is coated and then add in all the veg. Keep stirfrying for a couple of minutes, add a dash of white pepper and voila! push the rice into a bowl and then turn out onto a plate for a dome effect. Serve with lashings of lime wedges, coriander if you have it and chilli sauce.

Not so fancy but so cheap and tasty fried rice

Not so fancy but so cheap and tasty fried rice

Noodle Soup

Noodle soup is warming, very healthy and aromatic. It’s a lovely treat for a cold winters day. To make my noodle soup cut up an onion, garlic, ginger and chillis. Fry these in a pan while you cut up the rest of the veg (whatever you have in the fridge. I used mushrooms, tomatoes, pak choi, peppers, celery and sweetcorn. You only need a little of each so you can make this in tandem with the rice on another night). Boil a kettle and make 1 litre or so of vegetable stock. Add this to the pan and let it come to a simmer with the aromatics. Then add in the vegetables and give them a slight boil. While you do this cook noodles (one basket per person) for two minutes and drain them off. Add the drained noodles into the pan. Add 2 teaspoons of soy sauce per person and some generous squeezings of lime. Serve in big slurpy bowls with chilli flakes on the side and lashings of coriander on top. The joy of this is probably getting the soup all over your chin as you eat it 🙂

A particularly colourful and lovely aromatic homemade soup

A particularly colourful and lovely aromatic homemade soup

3. Kidney Bean Burgers instead of Dragonfly Walnut and Almond Burgers

Walnut and Almond burgers (see link below) are joyful. They taste great all smushed up in a toasted pitta bread with houmous, salad and chilli sauce, or with homemade chips. They are delightful, but quite expensive at £2.19 for two.

http://www.abelandcole.co.uk/nut-beany-dragonfly-2-x-100g  (for when you are feelin’ flush!)

A recent blog sensation called Jack (A Girl Called Jack) made up a recipe for Kidney Bean Burgers that works out as 9p per burger!! Which is a big difference. I have made these burgers quite a few times now. They always go down a storm in my house and are a brilliant super healthy alternative:

http://agirlcalledjack.com/2013/04/06/carrot-cumin-kidney-bean-burger-9p/ (for when your wallet is skinny)

I can’t take credit for these lovelies, but here is one of my versions:

For when you want a carby gooey yummy feeling in your tummy

For when you want a carby gooey yummy feeling in your tummy

4. Pimped up beans instead of pretty much anything that you can’t or don’t want to afford right now

Beans are a magical source of protein, fiber, iron and calcium. They are a low GI carb as well and do all sorts of fancy things with their indigestible fibers. I really love them. They are really good with most meals as we all know, and equally are great as the main man with toast or a jacket potato. My humble contribution to the baked bean is to pimp it up with home made spicy pastes like Harissa. Harissa paste is delicious and quite easy to make. Pimp up your beans with Harissa paste and you will not regret it! You can add it to almost any meal and it will make it taste delicious, which is brilliant if you want to add a bit of spice to your January budget food 🙂

I followed this recipe, it made two jars which lasted for ages and turned out really well:

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1977657/harissa

5. Small Oranges in your handbag, in your suitcase, in your living room, in your kitchen, in your office.

Small oranges are wondrous balls of juicy sugary healthy yumminess. Pick up a bag for around 1 pound which has about 10 in. This is not an advert. They are just really good to keep with you everywhere for the times when you want to go to the supermarket and buy expensive things like nuts and coconut water. Embrace the orange. They will keep you going throughout January.

I know you know what an orange looks like I just like the photo.

I know you know what an orange looks like I just like the photo.

Enjoy my fellow healthy ones! And be happy! 🙂 xxxx

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